Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Baking

Merry Christmas Eve!  Today there was something very important that my family needed to do- we had to bake all of our Christmas cupcakes and cookies!  My mom, sister, and I got right to work this morning.  We had mixed up our cookie dough in advance, so all we had to do was make the cupcakes and bake the cookies.  Everything came out beautifully and incredibly festive!

The peppermint cupcakes and buttercream are from a wonderful recipe from Bakingdom.

Peppermint Cupcakes
Makes 2 dozen

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1-2 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin pan with cupcake papers.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined.  Add the peppermint extract and stir.  Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the sour cream in two batches.

To marble the cupcakes, stir in red food coloring to 1/2 of the batter.  Add a scoop of each color batter to the cupcake tins and swirl with a toothpick.

Bake for 14-18 minutes.

Peppermint Buttercream

1/2 cup butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 tsp peppermint extract

Cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating until well combined.  If the frosting gets too thick, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time.  Add peppermint extract.

 We also made molasses cookies and sugar cookies- all we had to do was shape the cookies and pop them in the oven, since we had already made the dough.  Both doughs  needs to be refrigerated for awhile, so it's easy to make in advance.

Molasses Cookies

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375°.

Melt shortening and let cool.  Add sugar, molasses, egg to a large bowl and beat.  Sift together remaining ingredients and add to mixing bowl.  Mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Roll into small balls, coat in sugar, and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Sugar Cookies
(from Joy of Cooking)

1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup sifted flour

Cream butter, sugar, and salt.  Add egg and vanilla, beating until just combined.  Slowly stir in flour.  Refrigerate dough for at least 3-4 hours before rolling out.

To roll out, dust with flour and roll out to 1/4" thickness.

Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes.


1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 tablespoons water

Combine ingredients and spread onto cookies.

Merry Christmas Eve,

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Now it's officially winter.  The winter solstice has happened, and it's nearly Christmastime.  It has felt like winter for a bit longer than that, though.  We had our first (and only) snow back in October, the trees lit up on campus a week after Thanksgiving, and since then the days have been progressively shorter while the hours spent on work have grown progressively longer.  Unfortunately, that doesn't leave as many daylight hours in which to bake and photograph, so most of my holiday baking has taken place after the sun has gone down.  So it's not to say that I haven't been baking- I've made several pumpkin loaves, loads of gingerbread cupcakes, and holiday cookies galore- it's just that I haven't had pictures to share.

But now that I'm home, that all changes.  I woke up this morning to the smell of a pumpkin chocolate chip loaf baking in the oven.  Mom did a lovely job- it was just cool enough to slice when I made my way downstairs for breakfast.  The recipe that I used at school was from Food Network, since I was baking with fresh pumpkin.  I would always substitute the seeds for chocolate chips though!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Glorious and Edgy

As many of you probably know, I am a dancer, and this weekend I performed with two of Columbia's dance groups.  One of them was Orchesis, Columbia's largest student-run dance group.  One of the pieces I was in was choreographed by a good friend to Lady Gaga's Edge of Glory.  It was one of the most wonderful pieces I have danced in, so my cast decided we needed to do something special for our choreographer.  Since he always brought us candy or snacks at rehearsal we decided on these cupcakes that my friend found.

Not only are they cupcakes- they have a candy bar baked inside of them.  We used snickers- our choreographer's favorite!  Since they sunk a little, we added some chocolate ganache in the middle and then frosted them with chocolate buttercream.  Hopefully they are good- I actually haven't tried them since they were a gift!

From the Edge of Glory,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Birthday Breakfast

 Last week- actually exactly a week ago today- was my birthday.  My wonderful friends did an amazing job of planning a wonderful surprise birthday party.  They put so much effort into making it a very special day!

The cake was perfect- dark chocolate with pumpkin buttercream and a chocolate glaze.  I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends- thank you guys again!

One of the gifts they got me happened to be one of the kitchen gadgets that I was desperately missing from my kitchen- a waffle maker.  But this waffle maker was extra special- it was a circus animal waffle maker!  So of course we had to make waffles the next morning.

Love and Cupcakes,

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Year of Cupcakes

Tomorrow is a rather special day- it is my birthday!  Since I am turning 19 tomorrow, I decided that I needed to spend my last day of being 18 doing something special.  My 18th year was truly incredible- I had just made my way through half of my first semester at Columbia, and had met some of the most amazing people.

I had my first cupcake baking parties with my friends from high school over break.  18 was when I really began to experiment with baking, and fell in love with baking cupcakes.  Whenever I was home I tried out new recipes, always hesitant to repeat a recipe just because there were so many new ones I hadn't tried yet.

Then, over the summer I started my blog.  The summer was full of cupcakes and treats, which continued right up until the fall.  Then I moved into The Cupcake Suite.  We have become a sort of cupcake family, spending evenings together, cooking dinner for each other and enjoying, what else, lots and lots of cupcakes.  So of course, today I decided to bake.  I spent the afternoon in the kitchen, making scones and cupcakes and enjoying a rare relaxing day.

We got more jalapeños this week in our CSA farm share, so I decided to make the cheddar jalapeño scones again, since those were a hit last time.  They went perfectly with a bowl of chili that the guys made last night.

For the cupcakes, I decided to make my classic (and favorite) black magic cupcakes, but this time i decided to go with a mocha frosting, since there is coffee in the cupcake recipe already.  They came out really well, according to my taste testers, and were a wonderful way to end my 18th year.

Mocha Frosting
Enough for 12 cupcakes

5 tbs butter, softened
6 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp coffee grounds
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbs cocoa powder

Cream butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add brown sugar and mix thoroughly.  Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add coffee grounds and cocoa powder, mix, and refrigerate until firm enough to frost with.

Bon Appétit,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Not-Quite-Christmas Cookies

When is the acceptable time to start playing Christmas music?  Some would say after Halloween, but others would wait until after Thanksgiving.  This debate has yet to be settled in The Cupcake Suite, and we are currently listening to periodic Nutcracker and Andrea Bocelli Christmas music.

However, I think everyone agreed that it was never too early for Christmas cookies.  These delicious peanut butter nutella cookie recipe caught my eye on foodgawker, and I was dying to make it.  As a kid, I always made these type of peanut butter cookies with my mom for Christmastime.  We would always put a hershey kiss in the middle, which was so wonderfully gooey and delicious right out of the oven.

So this recipe, for me, worked like a not-quite-christmas cookie recipe.  They were perfectly moist and peanut buttery with a hint of choclate from the nutella.  Also, they were gone within minutes of sharing them with The Cupcake Suite.

Bon Appétit,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Autumn Veggies Soup

Veggies have not always been my favorite things.  As a little kid, I didn't like to touch anything green.  I ate carrots and occasionally green beans, but that was about it.  I have since expanded my repertoire, and my CSA farm share is just expanding it even farther.  All of the vegetables in this soup I received in the past week, fresh off the farms of upstate New York- you really can't beat that.

Also, this soup just reminds me again of all of the wonderful things about fall.  It is delicious and warming, and goes perfectly with a salad and a couple pieces of bread.  Really an all-around perfect fall lunch!  I had some the day I made it, and then saved the rest in the fridge for later in the week.  A couple minutes on the stove in a saucepan is all that it needs to reheat.

Happy fall, and Bon Appétit,

Sweet Potato Leek Soup
Serves 4

4 small leeks
1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2-3 tbs butter
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
4 cups chicken broth

Cook onion, carrot, and leeks in butter in a large saucepan over medium heat for 8 minutes.  Add broth and sweet potatoes.  Bring to a boil and cover, simmering for 20 minutes.  Add parsley and simmer for 5 minutes uncovered.  Blend using an immersion or tabletop blender.  If the soup is too thick, add more broth 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency is reached.  Serve immediately or store in fridge or freezer.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Autumn Apple Pie

Autumn is definitely here.  The heat in our building has turned on a couple times, the leaves are starting to change, and the apples at the farmer's market are absolutely perfect.  So there was really no way I could go much longer without making an apple pie.

This is the recipe that my mom and I always make together.  The crust is the best, flakiest pie crust I have had, and the filling is scrumptious.  My suite can attest to that- the pie was gone before anyone had time to think about a second slice.  I guess I'll just have to make another!  Anyways, here is the recipe, and if you haven't made an apple pie this fall yet, now you have no excuse not to.

Bon Appétit

Flaky Pie Crust
Makes 2 crusts (enough for 1 apple pie)

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks frozen butter, cut into small cubes
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
cold water

Blend the butter, flour, shortening and salt with a pastry fork.  Add the ice water a small bit at a time, just until the mixture sticks together to form dough.  Divide the dough into two balls, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

Apple Pie Filling

5 or 6 apples (3 granny smith and 3 jonathan or macintosh)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (or 1/4 cup flour)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
a grating of fresh nutmeg
fresh lemon juice

In a large measuring cup mix together the sugars, salt, cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.  Core and peel the apples and slice them into 1/4 inch thick slices, putting them in a large bowl.  Squeeze 
1/2 of a lemon over the apple slices, and pour the sugar mixture over them, stirring well.  Let the apple mixture sit while you roll out the dough.

Assembly and Baking

Roll out the two crusts between layers of plastic wrap.  Dust the dough lightly with flour before rolling to prevent sticking.  Place the bottom crust in the pie dish, prick with a fork, and put in the freezer for a few minutes.

Roll out the top crust and cut a hole in the center to vent the pie.  Remove the bottom crust from the freezer, fill with the apple mixture, and dot with a few small pieces of butter.  Place the top crust on the pie, crimp the edges, and add additional vents with a fork.

Bake at 450° for 12-14 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 350° and bake for another 35-45 minutes (or more) until the filling starts to bubble over.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Black and White Cheesecakes

Does a mini oreo cheesecake count as a cupcake?  Hmm, not entirely, I guess, although the cupcake suite doesn't mind the slight discrepancies.  Out of all the cupcakes I have baked for my suitemates, these might just be their favorites.  And that is saying quite a bit.

I have been making these cupcakes/cheesecakes for at least over a year now, and I never get sick of them.  They are super easy to make as well.  Unlike a regular cheesecake, you don't need to separately bake a cookie crust- the oreo is the crust!  And you don't need to worry about a water bath while baking; these are small enough that they shouldn't crack.

The recipe is exactly the same as my Mini Golden Oreo Lime Cheesecakes, except you replace golden oreos for regular (preferably not double stuffed) and replace the lime with a teaspoon of vanilla.

Bon Appétit

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Autumn Apples

Each week at the farmer's market, I pick up a bag full of apples.  I love trying out all the different kinds, although I can rarely remember which is which by the time I get them home.  Regardless, they are always delicious.  I decided that I really wanted to bake with one of the fantastic apples, and I was looking for something easy.  This Swedish apple cake from Cooking with Directions was the perfect solution.

I made this in 45 minutes (5 minutes to mix it up and then 40 in the oven) in between classes, and it came out wonderfully.  The "cake" is more of a fluffy sugar cookie with delicious apples placed decoratively on top.

I used a Cortland apple, which held up really well during the baking.  It was soft, but not mushy after 45 minutes.  I would also try this again with a couple Granny Smith slices to add some more variety.  It was a really wonderful and easy fall dessert to make.

Happy Autumn,